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Fashion History: 20th Century to the Present

(1950-today)

The 1960's Fashion brought us the mini-skirt.

 

Fashion History: 

20th c. Through Present (1950-present)


 

     The later half of the 20th century saw fashions increasingly being influenced by and indicators of social, musical, and artistic movements. By the 1960s a competing variety of styles presented people with multiple options of self expression that were more than simply class indicators, but indicators of various subcultures. Mod (short for modernist) culture, which began in London peaked in the ‘60s. Mod girls dressed in minidresses with geometric prints and wore oversized sunglasses. Supermodel Twiggy was seen as the symbol of Mod. The hippie/bohemian counterculture protested the accepted way of life, opting for social change in regards to the human rights movement, religion, the Vietnam war, and even clothing. Rather than dressing in the standard formal attire expected of them, hippie fashion (or anti-fashion) incorporated loose, bright colored styles inspired by the middle and far east, as well as distressed jeans, long jewelry, and, according to stereotype, bare feet. Otherwise, first lady Jackie Onassis Kennedy was a style icon, adorning herself in clothing regarded as sleek and sophisticated. She dressed in perfect understated elegance for America’s “royal family.”

 

     The 1970s brought the disco dance scene and along with it, the popularity of new clothing, such as double knit stretchable fabric with reflecting lights. (Who thought this was a good idea?) The disco style consisted of gold lame leopard print, stretch halter jumpsuits, platform shoes, and white, glowing clothing. The 1970's also brought Punk rock with bands such as The Clash and The Cramps, and with it punk fashion. Intentionally torn and altered clothing (like frayed pants and safety pinned and chained jackets) along with confrontational hairstyles, such as mohawks were used to express a distaste of modern culture and values sometimes associated with anarchy and defiance. The feminist movement played a part in fashion as well during this time. There was an organized effort to establish equal economic and political right and opportunities for women. Shorter skirts and pantsuits were worn, and because of the Education Amendments of 1972, public school could no longer require different dress codes for male and female students, and girls began wearing pants to school. 

     In the 1980s fashion too moved in many different directions. Professional women moved up in the workplace adopting "The Power Look,” a menswear inspired style that sported blazers with shoulder pads, thin ties, and suits. For men a more casual style was adapted. Additionally, health and fitness were concerns among the culture, and stretchable fabrics and dance wear, like leggings, leg warmers, and leotards became incorporated into daywear. Women’s hair was worn large and feathered. Neon colors, as well as loose, baggy clothing (such as M.C. Hammer harem pants), and other hip-hop influenced looks like graffitied shoes and bomber jackers were popular among the youth as well. 

     By the 1990s with generation X, dressing down was more common in America then not. The Grunge rock movement and Seattle scene became popular in the youth culture in the U.S., and because of this plaid, jeans, five o’clock shadows, and just-woke-up hair was worn by the majority of the youth. The pop band The Spice Girls influenced pre-teen girls with their outrageous platform shoes and skin-tight mini dresses. 

     Designer Oscar de la Renta famously said, "Today, there is no fashion, really. There are just...choices." Perhaps by now, there are so many subcultures to choose from, so many designers influenced by street wear and street wear influenced by designers, and so much clothing that is mass produced and low-quality clothing that fashion has disappeared, or at least greatly changed form. 

 

 

 

 

 

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